A Moment of Science

Was It a Boy or a Girl?

Boy or girl? That’s the first question we ask about new babies, new puppies and newly-found fossils. Fossils? Yep. Experts can tell if an ancient Egyptian mummy or a prehistoric human was a boy or a girl just by looking at the skeleton.

The human skeleton offers great insight into a person’s life. It will show the signs of disease, malnutrition, and injuries, as well as aging and sex. Experts can identify a skeleton’s sex by looking at two key areas: the skull and the pelvis.

Male skulls tend to be larger than female skulls, with heavier bones and a larger brain case. On the face area, there are bigger brow ridges, thicker jawbones and cheekbones. The chin is more square than a female’s chin, which is generally more pointed.

On the other hand, there’s the pelvis. The female pelvis is shaped like a wide, oval bowl with a large opening at the top and a slightly smaller opening at the bottom. If a female has had children, the pelvis will also show this. The male pelvis is generally more narrow; the opening at the bottom is more heart-shaped than oval.

Experts also use this type of information during forensic investigations. While the eyes may be the window to the soul, the skeleton offers experts a view into a human life.

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